Open Book
Light Bulb

train up a child

Kids currently in college, high school and middle school are rather unique. They’re the first crop of kids to grow up with smart phones in hand and two haunting events in their collective memory; the 2008 economic panic and the attacks of 9/11. These three seemingly unrelated items have combined to make kids, according to demographer Dr Jean Twenge “less rebellious and less relational, more tolerant but more unhappy, and completely unprepared for adulthood.” She opines that our kids are “fearful, maybe even terrified.”
Dr Twenge provides some excellent things a parent, or any significant adult can do to train up a child in the way they should go.

First, put down the phone. Limit kids’ time on smart phones and all social media. Steve Jobs strictly limited his kids’ access to technology, and never allowed his young children to use an iPad. Electronic communication is linked to poor mental health. In-person interaction is linked to good mental health. Just like junk food, kids prefer electronic communication. College student Rachel Walman writes, “I’m saddened by the fact that our online lives have become more important than our real lives.” University of Georgia freshman Alexandra Lee complains, “Nobody can just be present anymore.”

Second, face up to the likelihood your kids have watched porn—girls, too. Porn does not portray healthy human sexuality. It uses actors—sometimes sex-slaves—who participate in sex that is usually demeaning, often brutal, and always emotionally distant. Kids are being fed a warped view of sexuality. In her
TED talk Cindy Gallop claims, “This generation is growing up believing that what they’ve watched in hard-core pornography is the way you have sex.” One result, kids are unwilling to label anything as wrong—it’s all up to the individual.

And just in case you didn’t know,
Snapchat is notorious for noodz—nude selfies kids send only to their “closest friends”. Only they can and do get spread around. Noodz have been known to spread through a middle school in a matter of minutes. Kids need to know that real friends don’t request nude selfies.

Third, friends are needed. Our kids have grown up being told: Make yourself happy. Psychologist Leslie Bell observes, “There’s this idea that identity is built independent of relationships, not within them.” Kids are actually concerned about “catching feelings” social media slang for emotional attachments; as if caring was a disease. But we’re designed for emotional connections with others. Indeed, most kids still want a real relationship. Three out of four college students say they’d like to be in a committed, loving relationship within the next year. But they believe their classmates are only interested in hookups. One 19-year-old told
American Girls, “Everyone wants love. And no one wants to admit it.”

Fourth, engage in debate. Kids today appear deeply emotional when someone simply disagrees with them. And, emotional reasoning is now accepted as evidence. 35% of college students in 2015 believed the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech” (it does). 30% of self-identified liberal college students believe the First Amendment is “outdated”. But as one college student said, “Being easily offended keeps you from learning. It keeps you from being able to keep an open mind and get to a truth.”

Finally, read books. The Millennial generation at least read the Harry Potter series. According to Dr Twenge’s research the vast majority of today’s kids claim they’ve never read a book—any book. (Book reports are far more likely to result from online summaries than actual reading.) Social media constricts our thinking by feeding us messages that support what we already think we know. Reading offers different perspectives, it broadens the mind. Audio books can help get kids hooked on books. Read aloud a book, a real book to your kids. Perhaps start with the
Narnia series. And, don’t forget the Bible. ~

Dan Nygaard